With 40 additional families to feed and with Superstorm Sandy competing for charitable dollars, Donna Hess was a little worried about the Illinois Valley Food Pantry meeting the demand for Thanksgiving food.
Then, on Monday, Superman came to the rescue. That is to say, a 13-year-old wearing a Superman T-shirt pulled up in a moving van bearing 2½ tons of food and an envelope stuffed with $1,100 in cash.
It was Adam Claggett, the 13-year-old La Salle boy who mounts a twice-a-year food drive to fill tables for the needy at Easter and Thanksgiving.
And the food came not a moment too soon.
“The cupboards were pretty bare,” said Hess, executive director of the food pantry in La Salle. “We look forward to (Adam’s delivery) because it gives us a jump on the holiday.”
Adam started raising food at the age of 9. He and his family filled a car with 88 pounds of food which they delivered to the IV Food Pantry. He pledged to continue raising food and funds, and his cumulative totals have become staggering: As of Monday, he has raised nearly 12 tons of food and nearly $7,000 cash.
“I’m happy,” Adam said Monday after he, his family and friends emptied the van. “It gets easier each time. I think the more I do it, the more comfortable I get and the easier it becomes.”
The Claggett family is getting pretty good at unloading the massive load, as well. Parents Dave and Keri Claggett decided this year to weigh the truck rather than weigh individual loads, enabling them to shuttle crates of nonperishable foods into the pantry in less than 20 minutes.
“It just got to the point where there was too much going on,” Dave Claggett said.
This year’s load includes not only frozen turkeys for holiday tables but also homemade laundry detergent, derived from an online formula Keri discovered. Pantry clients are invited to bring a plastic, sealable container and take home a few pounds of homemade detergent. (Donors also are asked for plastic containers, as well.)
Clients can pick up food at IV Food Pantry 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, but that will be followed by deliveries to 70 clients Monday, Nov. 19. Hess said the volume of needy clients this year climbed from 750 to 790, or about 2,500 people.
UPDATE: Adam reported Tuesday afternoon that additional cash donations have trickled in since his Monday delivery. He has now raised more than $2,500 in cash in addition to the 5,000 pounds of food.